Sunday, September 30, 2007

Doing it His Way

I arrived home last night at 10pm.* I expected to start crying the moment I hit the driveway; instead, seeing my dad again has had the opposite effect. I have not been this calm and centered since, say, September, 2006. When I walked through the back door at 10pm, after a 4 hour drive, my dad got up and gave me a hug - and then went back to bed and advised me to do the same. He looked much better than he did the last time I saw him, which was two weeks ago. I slept like I have never, ever slept in my life. Dreamless, weightless, heavenly blankness.

I woke up this morning and looked out the window. I took this picture before I headed downstairs for coffee:

I put on my boots, poured myself a cup of coffee and met my dad down at the rock pile. We spent the day working on the wall together. As we worked, my dad explained his new "less than a month to live" plan. His plan is to do whatever he pleases.

This is what pleases him.

Manly work:

Stacking rocks:

Old school smokes:

tasty snacks:

good beer, sugary cola:

Regarding mortality, he seems unphased. He feels better than he did a month ago - which is when they told him he would been dead within a week. He is euphoric that he has had his last pic line, his last hit of cytarabine, his last hickman catheter, his last bone marrow biopsy, his last cbc. Often, the hospice nurse shows up to check out his condition, only to be told that he'll call if he decides he needs help. Most often when he sends this well-intentioned person away, he is gesturing with a shovel or a rock hammer.

That's my dad.

I get to spend another day with him.** We will be doing the same thing tomorrow: dry stacking walls and if we get to it, mixing mortar. I would give anything to be able to stay. I cannot - and should not, I know.

I have not yet figured out how to say goodbye, but I plan to say goodbye like always - that is - as if I will be back in two weeks. For one thing, it is very possible that I will be back in a few weeks. For another, neither my dad nor I need a "this is the last time I will ever see you" moment. He loves me. I know this. I love him. He knows this. Our books are balanced and our consciences clear. And in that sense, I am well aware that I've landed in a better place than others do when they are forced to let go of their fathers. I am heartbroken, but not bitter. And for today, and for what I might reasonably hope to get tomorrow, I am inexpressibly grateful.

* After I spent the entire day on Saturday in Newark Airport - most of it sobbing into the wrists of my sweater because I was bumped from no fewer than three flights - I finally arrived at my Dad's house. (The journey involved breaking down and renting a car - and oh yes, yes yes, I will be posting about that ORDEAL. Just not today).

** thank you thank you thank you thank you. Oh my god you have no idea. No. Idea.

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